Guests shop silent auction offerings before the program begins. (Sandy McCraren, Highland Park) (Posted by sgarrity1, Community Contributor)
“My daughter was sexually abused at 3 ½ by a family member. This statement is something I never thought I would have to say. As I stand here in front of you, I do not feel scared, ashamed or judged. This statement does not define me or my family. As I read this statement it shows my courage and strength and that I have a voice that is meant to be heard.”
And so the mother of sexual abuse survivor began her remarks to crowd of over 450 people at Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center’s 13th Annual Community Luncheon. By bravely sharing her own story of survival, and that of her family, this mom challenged the attendees to not only talk to their children about sexual abuse, but to listen, as the average victim of childhood sexual abuse discloses to seven people before they are believed or action is taken to protect them.
Each year in schools children are taught, mandated by law, tornado drills, bus drills, fire drills, and stranger danger, but the truth is 93% of the time children are being abused by someone they know and trust. It’s a silent epidemic.
ZCenter’s CEO, Amy Junge (Gurnee), weighed in on the work being done at ZCenter and in Lake County to implement and manage the prevention education necessary to prevent new cases of childhood sexual abuse, “Sexual abuse is very real and whether we want to believe it or not, disclosures are happening every day in our schools. If no one believes a child after repeated attempts to tell their story, that child is likely going to keep their abuse a secret. This is why we are so grateful for the passing of Erin’s Law in the state of Illinois. We know that through education we can prevent sexual abuse and provide better support to victims when they come forward.”
Junge presented two Community Impact awards – one to an individual and one to an organization-for their significant efforts and contributions to the healing journey survivors of sexual assault and abuse make.
Jean Cozier (Chicago-Ravenswood)
“As the founder of the Awakenings Foundation Gallery, the only gallery of its kind to feature the artwork of sexual assault and abuse survivors, Jean Cozier has single-handedly challenged the Chicagoland area to confront to crime of sexual violence in a new, unique and artful way, while allowing survivors to heal through many different art media. By opening the Awakening Gallery in Ravenswood, Cozier has given survivors an outlet to acknowledge their emotional trauma and the space to share their healing journey.”
Mundelein High School
“In November of last year, Mundelein High School took a chance and set the bar extremely high. They are the first high school in Lake County to ever address the issue of sexual assault through drama in their performance of the play, TRUST. Discussing the choice just to do this production, this topic, is a deliberate and impressive act. To say yes to it and then provide the care and emotion they wrapped it in, is outstanding and fearless. This play was extremely successful with the community attending this production. In our eyes it was already successful before even one ticket was sold.”
As always, ZCenter staff, board members and volunteers were thrilled to share their work through this annual event which offers tours of their beautiful facility, a chance to speak with the many people who make what they do possible, and the opportunity to connect to an important and worthy cause. As emcee Melissa Forman (WCIU- You and Me in the Morning) so eloquently told luncheon attendees through her recount of the odyssey of the blue sweater, “”Our actions-and inaction-touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know and never meet. You never know when one action will positively impact a stranger. Thank you for making that impact today!”
By COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTOR SGARRITY1
JUL 02, 2015 AT 12:19 PM